Reading time: 3 minutes

There is a fascinating story of recent years involving the band Vampire Weekend and a model release. Or rather, the model who didn’t provide her release.

The girl in this photo is Kirsten Anne Kennis, or at least it is Kirsten Anne Kennis as she was in 1983.

In 2009, Kennis’ teenage daughter spotted her mum’s face on the cover of Vampire Weekend’s Contra album. The ex-model, now in her late 50s, was surprised at being the ‘new’ face of the indie-rock band’s album.

The photograph was a Polaroid and Kennis could not remember posing for it. Photographers routinely took these Polaroids of applicants at every day casting calls in New York at the time. The photographer, Tod Brody, sold it to the band. He said that he took it at a casting call for models for a TV commercial and that the model had signed a release for its use by him.

Kennis denied this. She said that even as a young model in her early 20s, she knew about her rights to her image that she refused to sign any releases, even in respect of the Polaroids taken at such events.

Kennis didn’t take kindly to her image being used without her permission. And in 2010, she took Vampire Weekend, their label XL Records and the photographer, Tod Brody to court, claiming US$2M in damages. Kennis relied on the significantly greater protections in this area afforded to US celebrities when compared to Australian celebrities.

The plot thickened when the photographer produced a model release form apparently signed by ‘Kristen Johnson’ dated July 2009, to support his version of events. He had crossed out and rewritten the date. Suspiciously, the form purported to licence the ex-model’s image to Vampire Weekend for a fee of $1.00.

Vampire Weekend and XL Records quickly settled the case with the model for an undisclosed sum. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the photographer turned out to be unreliable.

Conclusion

If you are a photographer, you should be taking steps at the outset to protect your reputation! Ask LegalVision to provide you with a comprehensive release form for your models to sign that will allow you to commercialise their images in the future, and will also release you from liability from mishaps during the shoot.

But for heaven’s sake, don’t create the releases and forge the signatures later. Otherwise, your reputation, like the photographer in this story, will be instantly shot.

If you do want to obtain images from photographers and use them for commercial purposes, make sure the images come from a reputable photographer who has full rights to use them.

Webinars

Construction Contract Essentials

Thursday 12 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Understand how construction contracts are drafted and how to protect your construction business.
Register Now

Startup 101: Understanding Cap Tables and ESOPs

Thursday 19 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Cap tables and employee share option plans are essential for fast-growing startups. Learn more with this free webinar.
Register Now

Expanding to NZ: Structuring Your Business For Success

Thursday 26 August | 2:00 - 2:45pm

Online
Launching a business in New Zealand? Understand how to structure your business for success with this free webinar.
Register Now

Preventing Modern Slavery: Your Business’ Legal Obligations

Thursday 9 September | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Are you an Australian business with $100m+ annual consolidated revenue? Learn how to determine if you are a modern slavery reporting entity and your obligations under the legislation with this free webinar.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. From just $119 per week, get all your contracts sorted, trade marks registered and questions answered by experienced business lawyers.

Learn more about LVConnect

Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation – Finalist – Australasian Law Awards 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice – Winner – Australasian Lawyer 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer